DVD Review- The Raid 2
Distributor: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Street Date: July 8th 2014
Technical Specifications: 480P, Color, 2.40:1 Aspect Ratio, 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, English Subtitles
Runtime: 150 Minutes
In 2011, Director Gareth Evans released The Raid: Redemption, a no-holds-barred Indonesian action film that was a breath of fresh air for fans of the genre. The fight sequences featured incredible choreography, camera work, and editing techniques, with only minimal CGI utilized. This practical decision on the filmmaker’s behalf provided fans of the action genre something that is a bit of a rarity these days: a realistic action film where we, the viewers, feel like what’s happening on screen is actually occurring in this narrative realm. Though the story itself wasn’t necessarily unique, the execution was handled with the precision and clarity of a master filmmaker.
The Raid 2 picks up precisely where the first film left off, with S.W.A.T. member Rama (Iko Uwais) meeting with his brother Andi’s contact Bunawar after having defeated crime boss Tama Riyadi and his apartment building full of gangster minions. When Rama learns of Andi’s execution by Jakarta’s new crime boss Bejo, he agrees to go deep undercover to expose police corruption and keep his loving family safe from retaliation. With Bunawar’s help, his previous identity is erased, and he becomes “Yuda”, purposely imprisoning himself with Uko, the respected son of rival mob boss Bangun. Sounds complicated you say? It may on paper, but it plays out on film in a very cohesive fashion.
After two long years away from his family, “Yuda” (Rama) is released from prison and taken under the wing of Bangun. With Bunawar’s assistance, Yuda slowly plays each of Jakarta’s rival gangs against each other in the hopes of crumbling the criminal underworld, and eventually returning to his wife and son.
The action in The Raid 2 is even more impressive than the first film, and it’s fascinating that many of the punches, kicks, and martial arts feats on display in this film are 100% real. Though the story itself is somewhat borrowed, reminding one of Infernal Affairs (or Martin Scorsese’s American remake The Departed), it simply doesn’t matter. Director Gareth Evans has expertly crafted a cinematic action masterpiece. This is a prime example of what action films should be, but unfortunately, most mainstream movies of the genre rely far too heavily on CGI. These are real actors/martial artists creating brilliantly choreographed fight sequences, and viewers can tell the difference. From a muddy fight in the prison yard to an intense car chase, nothing is off limits here and everything is breathtaking. The characters are well rounded and the story is effortlessly involving. The Raid 2 is hands-down the most enjoyable film I have seen in 2014, and receives my highest recommendation.
While the Raid 2 looks quite good on the inferior DVD format, there isn’t a doubt in my mind that you need to pick up the Blu-Ray edition to experience the full beauty of the fight choreography and action sequences for a film like this. With that being said, the DVD edition features a bold and authentic color scheme that respects the theatrical experience, and detail is relatively good for the format. There are some interesting color palettes at work here, especially during the prison yard mud fight and subway train sequence that hold up really well on the format. Black levels are inky and consistent, but detail suffers slightly due to the format’s limitations.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital track included herein is incredible. The bone-breaking, flesh ripping, knuckle cracking fight sequences sound spectacular, and would likely sound even better on the Blu-Ray edition with lossless sound. Dialogue comes through just fine on the original Indonesian track, music is rich and detailed, and sound effects are powerfully dispersed throughout your system.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has included some fun special features for fans of The Raid 2 on this DVD edition. Here’s a breakdown of what’s included:
- Feature Commentary w/Director Gareth Evans- This commentary featuring Director Gareth Evans is incredible, and rarely features any dull moments or long periods of silence. The filmmaker discusses various aspects of the filmmaking including: editing techniques, fight choreography, use of practical effects and CGI blending, and much more. It’s very clear that Mr. Edwards is passionate about his film series, and he has plenty to reveal to fans of the series on the entire filmmaking process involved in his films.
- The Next Chapter: Shooting the Sequel- This featurette runs over ten minutes and features Director Gareth Evans discussing the basic plot of the film, including rehashing aspects of the first film and how it plays into this sequel. We get some nice behind-the-scenes footage from the shoot, and get to hear from the main cast regarding how their individual characters play into the storyline.
- The Cinefamily Q&A w/Gareth Evans, Iko Uwais, & Joe Trapanese- This Q&A feature from Cinefamily was filmed following a screening of the film, and runs 44 minutes. At this point, if you’ve already watched the film, listened to the commentary, and the featurette, some of the details are a little repetitive. Still, there are some fun moments that happen on stage between Gareth and Iko, who requires occasional humorous translation from his Director. Good stuff, but a little overlong for my taste.
- Theatrical Trailer- Rather self-explanatory, but this trailer offers a decent sneak peek of the film without revealing too many of the surprises.
- Previews- Select trailers for various titles from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
As you can see from the “Unboxing” pictures below, this DVD release from Sony Pictures features some fun cover art with the main cast against a bloody backdrop. The reverse of the packaging features a plot synopsis for the film, a list of special features, and technical specifications. I was a little annoyed to see one review snippet on the back of the box that said: “Fight sequences so bananas they make Jackie Chan/Bruce Lee predecessors look flat-footed.” Are you kidding me? I’m 100% sure Director Gareth Evans and the martial artists involved in the film would say there would be no Raid 2 without the influence and genius of both of those legendary artists. Rant aside; the interior of the DVD packaging includes an Ultraviolet Digital Copy code as well as the DVD disc itself, which doesn’t feature any eye-catching disc art.
The Raid 2 is absolutely one of the best films of 2014. There is no denying the sheer jaw-dropping entertainment that Director Gareth Evans has in store for action fans. Though the storyline feels a little borrowed, the fight choreography is stunning, the acting is superb, and the film flows at a perfect pace. The DVD edition from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment features a solid video presentation for the inferior format, but there’s no denying you need to pick up The Raid 2 on Blu-Ray to experience the full detail of these brilliant action sequences. The digital audio presentation balances dialogue, music, and sound effects well, and the special features are loaded with fun featurettes and commentary to explore. The Raid 2 comes Highly Recommended.
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